God’s Love for the Gay Community

God’s Love for the Gay Community


I have been following your emails lately. You have talked a lot about the gay community but I am not sure that I understand what you are really saying about  what motivates you within the ministry of Grace Rivers. You put out a recent ministry mission statement and I would like to know more about what you are really saying. Thank you in advance for more clarity.

Jim P.

Jim, I would love to help you better understand what I am doing and to convey more of my heart motivation to you.

First of all, I will be using the term “gay” in my statements. I have a desire to be as relevant to the gay community as I can be. In recent conversations with some people from the gay community I asked them about the terminology that best describes them.

One man said, “John, I don’t like the word “homosexual” because I don’t want my identity to be wrapped around the word “sex”. I am celibate and choose to remain that way for many reasons, but I am still “gay”. Being “gay” is not about sex. It is about part of my life experience that is intrinsically tied to how I connect to culture, community, and things about my relationships that are same gender connected. To say I am a homo’sex’ual puts more emphasis on sex than I relate to.”

I realize that for my generation, and for the Christian community that I am a part of to say “gay” brings all kinds of baggage with it. It may sound political, or bring up images of gay activism. Or for some, am image of a fringe collection of people that seem counter culture. Some people my age can’t fathom using the word gay because of historical images of certain stereotypes. But from my perspective, it is more important to relate to those I am working with and hope that those who don’t like the word “gay” will grow to hear my heart.

But, If I am going to share in the love of Christ with people from the gay community, it is important that I use words that are connecting, and not separating.

So, I hope you understand the terms I use here.

I have recently conveyed through articles and interviews on my website and in my email blogs some of the following perspectives.

You referred to a recent mission statement:

Grace Rivers is a ministry with the gay community that reveals the message of an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ and genuine community with His followers – because every person deserves to know that Jesus loves them.

All gay people deserve to know they are loved by God.

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Gay people have often felt discarded by many, and often from church associations, as though they have no value.

I have met many people from the gay community that have emotionally separated themselves from God and from gatherings of Christians due to deep wounds they have incurred.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? Matthew 18:12

Many gay people have received from Jesus the gift of salvation and are a significant part of our Christian family and are seeking to further understand what that means and desire more of God in their lives.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Gay people are worthy of my respect because of their intrinsic value offered them by God.

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:11-13

Gay people have legitimate lives, cares, concerns, relationships, and many seek to feel heard, validated, and understood.

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live.

Psalm 116:1-2

It is also my conviction that without a growing personal relationship with Jesus, no man will ever know their intrinsic worth, nor will anyone truly know God’s heart for them as people loved by Him.

Therefore, I seek to work with the gay community to convey this redemptive, radical love from God to His people, and to those who don’t know Him. There is no other reason for anyone to seek God for His desire for their lives other than in response to His unlimited gift to them of grace and the journey of salvation as unto eternity.

Jim, I hope this gives you some more clarity about my heart for the gay community. This passage closely describes my ministry motivation:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

It has been a tremendous privilege to see the amazing power of God’s grace in bringing healing and reconciliation to gay people who are hurting and need to hear that someone cares. During a recent opportunity this delightful young lady told me:

“John, we met 11 years ago when we ministered together at a conference. Shortly after that conference I walked away from God from so much hurt and pain from many people in the church. Two years ago, I found God’s grace for me and I have returned to Him. I want you to know that it was really hard to see you here today because you represent some of that pain for me. But, after we talked, God began to heal some more deep places in my heart. Thank you for who you are and thank God for what He has done between us. I can see more of Him today.”

After not seeing this next young man for 20 years, I arranged to meet him for breakfast and he said:

“I hired Jesus to heal me. He didn’t. So after many years of trying to get healed by myself, I walked away disappointed, believing that He cared more for others, who seemed to get healed, than he did me. John, as a result of our reunion today, I realize I need a new beginning with God. I am starting over in a new city and it’s a perfect time to start over with God.”

This last couple of months, I have had many of these “mountain top” experiences of reconciliation. God is showing me a brand new understanding of “reconciling grace”. I have seen the outcome of all of the work God has done during these recent years in my own heart. More than ever, I want to continue bringing this kind of freedom to others. As I am lead, I am pursuing people that God brings to my heart to bring them the good news of Jesus love.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Links to other articles:

General Resources

Articles on Homosexuality

Through the Windshield of My Life

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12 Responses to “God’s Love for the Gay Community”

  1. Norm Parker says:

    It seems that in order to forgive a person, that person must acknowledge they are wrong. It appears the majority of the gay community fail to believe they are choosing to live sinfully and are, pardon the choice of a “Biblical” word, unrepentant…According to today’s mainstream media they are actually entitled to their lifestyles. Yes, God loves everyone, but it is my understanding that we are accountable for our choices and He weighs whether we are genuine in asking for forgiveness for our sinful choices, be they sexual, violent, slovenliness, etc.. So WE can love gay folk, but I believe it to be a Christian disservice to lead gays to believe they will not, ultimately, be held accountable for their choices…for we all shall be.

  2. Cheryl Tyler says:

    John, I LOVE this! Thanks for writing it! Cheryl

  3. Judy W. says:

    I love you my brother. I am so grateful for the experience God has given you and how he has allowed you to experience Him as the living God that He is. My prayer is for God to bring circumstances into one’s life for each one to have this same living experience of receiving the love of Christ.

    To God be the glory, great things he has done.

  4. Chris says:

    I think one important thing that wasn’t mentioned is that in growing closer to God the gay desires become less because we all want to be like Jesus. What do you think?

  5. John Smid says:

    It might be helpful to read my article on repentance. http://www.gracerivers.com/two-men-sf

  6. John Smid says:

    You have walked a long road with me. I appreciate our friendship greatly.

  7. John Smid says:

    Our road of walking closer to God is a great transformation process that comes along with God’s grace. I cannot say that many people actually experience a lessening of gay desires, however, the transformation process will look quite different for different people. A desire to be like Jesus, I am afraid, will not always include changes in a gay orientation. For many years I would have said that it would but I find that to encourage someone in Jesus and tell them their homosexuality will go away is something that can produce false hopes and may be very disheartening.

    I have been seeking to be like Jesus for 30 years. I am married to my wife and I cannot say my gay desires have changed much at all. I will say that my addiction to emotionally dependent relationships has gone away almost entirely! I am tremendously grateful for that. But I cannot say my orientation has changed.

  8. Michael says:


    I agree with your response to Chris. I first began experiencing same sex attractions 32 years ago. I’ve been a Christian for 36 years. Over the past 18 years, I have read and studied and attended conferences…been through support groups, etc., to try to reconcile my same sex attractions with my faith. Today, my relationship with Christ is richer than it has ever been. I believe I have a much greater awareness of God’s grace and His mercy today. My relationship with Christ is more important to me than any relationship I have. I desire to be like Christ and my prayer since I was a boy is to “be a man after God’s own heart.”

    During all this time, my homosexual orientation has not changed and my desire to connect with another man in an intimate, non-sexual way has not decreased. So, as a result, as I live my life and sort through all of this, I ask Jesus to walk along side of me and I ask the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and counsel me.

  9. David Arakelian says:

    John, I partially agree with you. God does love everyone. Repentance does start with a heart change. However, God loves us too much to leave us where we are at. As believers who have struggled with homosexuality, the Bible is very clear that we are to either be married or live celibate lives.

    Repentance without behavioral changes is not repentance. God doesn’t expect change to be instantaneous, (although it can be in some cases). However, I think that you may do a disservice to the gay community if you lean too heavily toward the “love” side.

    As for myself, I was very heavily involved with the leather scene for over 10 years. I also lived through clergy sexual and spiritual abuse. I have also been hurt by the Bible bombs that fundies have spewed out at me in the past.

    Today, I am married with kids. I’m also going for my MDiv and MAPS in Pastoral Counseling from Multnomah University.

  10. Kevin Jacobson says:

    Being gay is not a choice….anymore than you can choose the color of your eyes. Yes, I can go to the optometrist, get colored contacts, and wham! My eyes are blue. But are they really? Of course not. When I go home at night, and take those contacts out, my eyes are still green.

    I participated in ex-gay ministries for many years. I learned everything I needed to know…even got married. But I was just as gay 4 1/2 years later as I was the day I started.

    I am not bitter about the experience though. First, it showed me that I couldn’t change. Second, because of my experience, it made me a much better Christian. Third, it forced me to look at what the Bible really says. For example, in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you want to take it literally, as I was taught as a good Baptist that you have to do, S & G was made up of about 500,000 people.

    The verse says that “ALL of the men of the town and the WHOLE town” surrounded Lot’s house. Really?? 500,000 people (men, women and children) surrounded the house and wanted to commit an act of sexual violence?? I don’t think so. Also, that is what is being talked about here…sexual violence. Rape. Humiliation. Domination. Those things have nothing to do with orientation.

    Ezekiel 16:48-51 describes the sins of Sodom and homosexuality is not among them. In 2 Peter 2:6, it calls S & G “ungodly.” the Greek word is AS-EB-ACE which literally means, “without worship.”. Again, nothing to do with orientation.

    As I studied through all of the “clobber” passages used to condemn gay people, imagine my surprise. John 3:16 says it best, God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes on Him WILL NOT perish, but have everlasting life.”. I am thankful for the grace and mercy of Jesus…and the fact that I can know I have eternal life!

  11. Will says:

    @Kevin Jacobson .. I completely agree with your post, and I would just add two further things. First .. the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were Canaanites. Understanding the Fertility cult worship of Canaan that involved ritual sexual acts explains something to me of the presence of ALL the men, women and children of Sodom outside Lot’s house that night (the Hebrew word IYSH = male is not used when Moses was writing of “men” .. but the word ENOWSH=mortals/human beings is).

    I believe that the possibility is strong that what was being suggested in that passage was related to the Canaanitish Fertility cult practices. That view also makes more sense of Lot offering his two “Virgin” daughters. The other thing I wanted to point out is found in Ezekiel 16:50. INDEED the 49th-50th verses of EZ 16 do not mention sex of any kind, though I have had some argue with me over the years that the word “abomination” in vs 50 is speaking of “homosexuality” (what a stretch that is!!).

    There are several Hebrew words that are translated “abomination” and in this case the Hebrew word TOEVAH=idol worship is used, not ZIMMAH=sexual abomination.

    Sorry to be so long winded, John .. I have a hard time being concise, I know.

  12. PD says:

    I just finshed watching this is what love in action looks like on netflix & when I saw the mention of your new ministry John I was very glad & sought out a link immidetly! my storys a bit differnt but the hurt is the same. I grew up in conservitive churchs with deviations in to any other religion I could find but kept being pulled back to christionity & hated God for contuining to torcher me with this desire of being part of the most painful, triggering, torchis religion I could think of for me.

    I knew I was differnt from everybody in my family at 2. I knew I was boy but didn’t look like my older brothers in one aspect & was being raised a girl but didn’t look like my mother & grandma either & couldn’t relate to them at all. thankfully I could dress how ever I wanted at home & pretty much presue my intrests, but when I went to church I had to have a dress on & always felt like it was wrong & it would make my skin crawl. my mom chalked it up to being a tomboy till I hit 14 & nothing changed, I also never got a minstril cycle, then I was admitted to a psych ward becuse I had turned very agressive becuse of all the constint teasing at home & at school & endured neglect & abuse at home. they dignosed mr trasgendered I didn’t think that was the whole story it just didnt fit & I had been obsessed with any story I could find about hemapherditism since 8, but I baskly exsepted it, it didn’t matter much to me as a whole becuse I had no planes to date, never really assoiated with people & was going to be me no matter what labil stuck on me. but when I hit 32 I got off all the alchol, psyche drugs, & pain meds that had clouded my mind for many years & everything went topsy turvy, I had emotions I had never felt before, suddnly I wanted frinds I was desprite for humen contact & that led to alot of conflict becuse suddnly what others said mattered greatly to me & they would tell me God & people couldnt care about me till I dressed the way they wanted, walked & talked the way they wanted.

    I was heart broken, never have any frinds & have God contue to hate me or completly give up everything I held intriscly true about me & live a lie, I tryed to fit the “femail” roll a couple of times but couldn’t keep it up for more then a month then I would just go into a rage & shred everything & cut every part of my body I could reach, when I hit 33 I had started attinding a gay/straght 12 step meeting out of a suggestion from a frind at church, I had contact with only one lesben nabor my whole life so I knew nothing but suddnly all thes nice & care people came into my life & I saw the compassion they had with there partners & others & through that I got a real strong desire to reach them for Christ I wanted them to know God loved them (eventhough I figered he hated me, didn’t mean he hated them) & I went to battle trying to get people to see they deserved Gods love as much as enyone else! at 35 I went to a out door 5 day consert thing again as sugested by this same guy becuse they were going to have simnares on how to minister to the GLBT commuity, well I sat in on a exodes lecter but that wasn’t sitting well with me, but I always keep all options open, at the end they had a open forem & on that panel was a guy that had wrote a book called love is an orientation & another guy that was a very liberl chrition that was for complete GLBT exseptice, he made a stament about it’s not always just male & femail there are verations & I really sat up & became enraptered with what he was saying, at the end they opned for questions & my hand shot up & I let the dam berst in a flood of words I said well I always knew I was differnt & was told I was transgendered but I don’t thing I am, I think I’m intersexed! everyone just turned & stared, afterward a well known geneticist aproched me & said he would like to do a study on me, I was thrilled, then the other guy chased me out of the tent & gave me his card & I became fimler with his founation the Marin foundation, I went through the testing & it confermed I had a rare form of intersexsim & was prodominly male. suddnly the church was ok with who I was & everthing was fine by there standereds becuse now it was a birth defect but that didnt settle me I was the same perso I had always been for 36 years that I had been told God hates me & kicked out of over 50 churchs but suddnly I was ok?

    the minstry I wanted to do never took off so I am very glad you & the guy I know in chicago are doing it! I still haven’t really came to full terms that God can love me now that it’s a birth defect but couldn’t before but I keep trying, I have leagly changed my name but for mony & helth reasons turned down corrective surgy & now live in another state that dosent really know my history so things are alot better. anyway thanks so much for reaching out to those that have been so beat up & beat down by the church.

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